Buyer Beware: Buying Your Own Materials

Buying Your Own Materials

Clients often want to buy their own lighting, appliances, plumbing fixtures or other materials, thinking they’ll save money if the contractor doesn’t mark them up.  While I appreciate the motivation, I’m often  very concerned about this.  I want my clients to save money—really!—because then they’ll be happy, and my number one priority is having happy clients.  But there are some serious potential pitfalls to look out for.

  • What if you get the wrong size or the wrong type of product? Or what if it doesn’t “play well” with something else?  The whole project can be delayed while we find a product that fits and works the way you want.
  • What if it’s missing parts? Again, there’s a delay while we source those, if they are available at all.   And the cost of these parts may wipe out the savings you thought you were getting or even end up costing you more.  I have vendors I use routinely who are clear about what will and won’t be included; other sources may be less clear.
  • And what if your bargain has been discontinued (they’re often a bargain for a reason) or back-ordered?  Then you may have to make a whole new set of choices.  Again, potential costs and delays.
  • It may cost more to install because there’s something funky about it (again, if it’s way cheaper there may be a reason!) We recently has a major problem with a sink that was cast out of square.
  • Sometimes products are defective or damaged during shipping.  If you use my vendors those chances are minimized; and if it does happen you’ll want me to fix it, not you.  Also, if there is a problem my trusted vendors will hustle to make it right; you as a homeowner may not get the same priority treatment at your discount website.

The solution to these problems is to involve a professional during the design and product selection process.  This could be an architect or designer, in which case I’ll work with that professional to confirm the details. Alternatively, I can do the design and take responsibility for getting everything right from the start.  This will maximize your odds of completing your dream project on time and on budget, and of having it look and function the way you want and expect.

Professional design help, whether from an architect, designer, or myself, may seem like an extravagance, but it’s chump change when you consider the potential consequences of a mistake.

Part of being environmentally responsible is to source products locally whenever possible.  This keeps the local economy vibrant and also minimizes the environmental footprint of long-distance shipping.